Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Walking Home

autumncolorsWalking through Tralee on a damp autumn morning you see an Irish town coming to life. On Oakpark Road buses, cars and trucks queue at the lights, waiting to deliver goods and occupants to opening businesses. The driver of a delivery van rolls down his window to empty his takeaway coffee onto the road. At the four-cross junction, traffic coming up Edward Street streams past, led by a driver on the phone, seemingly unaware of the law or the dangers of doing so.

Outside the entrance to the Sean Mhuileann apartments two young men in suits are fixing their jackets. Dressed in black and carrying shoulder bags, they look like the Mormons I often see around town. As I approach they are putting on their name tags and the taller of the two turns towards me.

“Good morning sir,” he says, pointing at the blue, leather-backed Bible in his left hand, “have you heard about this?

“Morning,” I reply, following with a “yes, thank you,” but not stopping. I don’t want to be rude, but I’m not about to discuss the Bible at such an early hour. Crossing the road without looking back, I presume they are still walking and not too offended by me.

Ashe Street is a bustling place at any time of the day with a good mix of business types. At the top it’s dentists alongside solicitors, doctors' surgeries near insurance companies and a newspaper office near a medical supply outlet, which is close to a pharmacy. The face of a local TD dominates the window of his constituency office. There is even a church for those who search for sanctuary from it all. The footpath reads like a guide to Ireland’s communication history with a utility cover bearing the logo for the old P&T followed by ones for Telecom Eireann, Eircom and Esat Digital. Ironically the one for P&T looks like the only one designed to last. Everyone is walking towards town with some going through open doors along the way, getting to work, buying what they need or meeting appointments.

On the steps of the courthouse a barrister is having a cigarette while talking to a client and sipping a coffee. We nod in acknowledgement. Behind the imposing pillars a silent gathering smoke their last ones before going to face the music. A solicitor darts down the steps, maybe he forgot an important brief back in the office. The door of the Italian deli is open and the smell of freshly-baked bread mingles with their hams and cheese, filling the street with the scents of Scilly. People are already having a morning coffee on the tables outside Mozarts cafe, while the queue at the door of the Credit Union is inching its way inside.

At the end of the street people are going every which way. Some are heading to the pedestrianised Mall, while others turn to the banks and shops along Castle Street or pass me going for Ashe Street. The suits are heading for Denny Street, men and women going to work in the auctioneers, investment banks, solicitors and financial advisors of this side of Tralee. Outside The Grand and The Imperial delivery trucks are offloading laundry, cleaning supplies and the fresh produce needed daily to keep fine hotels ticking over. The street is alive, like the rest of the town, adding to the sense of business; a town at work with a lot to do.

At the bottom of Denny Street I skirt off through the park. The golden autumn leaves cover the paths and grass, reminding me of the time of year, even though my jacket is open. The quiet of the park contrasts with the streets and it is amazing how quickly the silence descends. A grandfather is laughing with his granddaughter and I think how lucky the two are to have each other’s company. I round the corner by the top of the slight incline and it feels as if my day is done. I check my phone; it’s just gone 10.15.


Posted by John Verling

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